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WSJ: Apple's Chamber departure not in shareholders' interests

In an editorial published Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal called out Apple's resignation from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as an act of "green political correctness," rather than a smart business decision.

The editorial singled out both Apple and Nike, two companies that recently forfeited their stake in the Chamber over its stance on greenhouse gas emissions. It noted that former Vice President Al Gore, a member of the Apple Board of Directors, stands to profit from potential anticarbon legislation.

"Mr. Gore has also invested in renewable energy technologies that could make him even richer than he already is if new climate rules make renewables more competitive with carbon energy," the Journal asserted.

It also noted that Tim Cook, Apple's chief operating officer, also sits on the board of Nike. The editorial suggested that the timing of both companies' departure was not an "accident."

The Journal suggested that the tax impact for both companies would be relatively small. Under the proposed Boxer-Kerry bill in the Senate, Apple's carbon taxes would reportedly be between $43 million and $108 million a year. And Nike, the report said, has most of its factories overseas.

It concluded that companies should not "dump" the Chamber over one issue. If every company did that, it said, the Chamber wouldn't be able to serve anyone's interests, as it would be too worried about each individual company's specific agenda, rather than the health of business in general.

"Green virtue is easier when someone else is paying for it," the editorial said.

Apple has earned its share of fans and critics in the wake of its decision. Chamber President Thomas Donohue took on Mac maker after it said it would prefer the Chamber to have a "more progressive stance on this critical issue." Donohue said Apple forfeited the chance to "advance a 21st century approach to climate change."

But Apple earned accolades as well, from U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, who called the move "wonderful." Greenpeace, too, applauded Apple's decision to leave the group.

Recently, the Chamber threatened litigation if the EPA enacts greenhouse gas regulations. The Chamber would rather see Congress set policy through legislation. That caught the ire of Apple and Nike.

While Apple left the Chamber entirely, Nike only withdrew from its board. The shoe-maker has retained its membership. Preceding them in departure were three utility companies, Pacific Gas & Electric, PNM Resources and Exelon.

Last month, Apple began reporting its carbon emissions on its Web site. The company noted that its products produce a great deal more emissions than its operations.